A papal visit doesn’t happen every year, so when it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI would visit the UK during 2010, Irish bookmakers Paddy Power decided that there must be a marketing angle to be found. Sure enough, the company managed to create a fair bit of media interest with their spoof Popemobile: a meticulous replica of the vehicle that transports the pontiff between appointments.
A lot of research and a thorough makeover later, Paddy Power’s very own version of the iconic holy roller took to the streets, sporting a great number plate from Regtransfers.
Paddy Power spokesman Roberto Coladangelo told Regtransfers: “To create a fun media story to celebrate the Pope’s visit, we decided to create an identical Popemobile to the one used by Pope Benedict XVI. We would then take the Popemobile to places the Pope may not be visiting on the official tour and give as many people as possible the opportunity to see the car up close.”
Paddy Power’s researchers decided to use a Mercedes ML, the most popular model for recent Popemobiles. During the conversion from normal ML to Popemobile, staff pored over countless images from the internet to help ensure that they achieved the most convincing replica possible. One of the most important aspects, other than the large glass cabin, was the personalised number plate, SCV 1. The letters ‘SCV’ represent Stato della Citta del Vaticano (Italian for ‘Vatican City’). Paddy Power secured a brilliant number plate to fit to their popemobile: P1 SCV!
“We used Regtransfers because you were both the best price and the fastest to deal with in order to have the plate ready for the stunt,” said Roberto.
As part of the project, Paddy Power filmed a tongue-in-cheek Pope My Ride video to show the change from the standard 4×4 to a car fit for a pope. (Search Pope my Ride on YouTube to watch the video.)
“We used Regtransfers because you were both the best price and the fastest to deal with.”
“We took our Popemobile to the streets across the UK, starting in Edinburgh,” said Roberto. “The reaction of the public was fantastic, with people stopping for photos and videos on their phones. The reaction was so good that we created a website www.popewatch.org for people to upload their photos and share sightings of any Popemobiles! The best sighting won a very holy iPad.
“We took the car to a few interesting locations that the real Holy Father might have missed during his visit, including a McDonald’s drive through, Celtic Football Club, The Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and, of course, we finished up with a drag race at Santa Pod!”
The Paddy Power Popemobile secured media coverage and created extensive buzz on social networking sites. The Pope My Ride video had attracted around 150,000 views within a couple of days.
The whole exercise was accepted by the public in the spirit in which it had been conceived: a bit of harmless fun to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime event. In years to come, when people tell their children about the Pope’s historic visit, we wonder how many of them will also have a funny story about the Paddy Power Popemobile!